The explanatory model of medicine is so common in Western society that it may easily be taken for granted. While the approach has provided a solid basis for the examination and assessment of illness, it has become apparent that the results of such an analysis may not be consistent throughout societies. The explanatory model usually consists of etiology, symptom descriptions, the course of sickness, and potential treatments. These items are quite expansive and their inclusion in the model provides information ranging from causes to cures. However, when this system is used in cultures outside of the traditional Western areas, the reporting can become anything but standard. For example, Taiwanese explanatory models may mix medical terminology with supernatural forces. This result would be confusing to most Western professionals, but it is completely valid in Taiwan (Shyu, Tsai, and Tsai 1323). Accordingly, while the model is certainly useful, it may be difficult to use in crosscultural situations.
2. While it is important for medical students in our society to learn the science of medicine. How important do you think it is for them to learn about culture, in terms of cross cultural healing traditions, etc. In other words, in what ways would medical students benefit from being required to learn about cultural issues, such as what we are learning in medical anthropology. Should this type of training be required?
As is hinted to above, modern medical professionals must be trained to understand the varying perspectives that are associated with the cultural backgrounds of potential patients. As societies become more culturally diverse, there is a necessity for associated values to be included in their health care. Patients are more likely to personally invest in their health when the need is framed as having a strong value in both cultural and medical systems (Johnston, Vukic, and Parker n.p.). Therefore, medical professionals should be aware of the ways that tradition and beliefs alter the evaluation and treatment processes at virtually every level.
Johnston, Grace, Adele Vukic, and Skylan Parker. “Cultural understanding in the provision of supportive and palliative care: perspectives in relation to an indigenous population.” BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care (2012).
Shyu, Yea-Ing Lotus, Jia-Ling Tsai, and Wen-Che Tsai. “Explaining and selecting treatments for autism: Parental explanatory models in Taiwan.” Journal of autism and developmental disorders 40.11 (2010): 1323-1331.